Tag Archives: forgiveness

My friend Fear and 2013

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb!

Man, it’s been a wild year huh?

Early January this year, I went to a cousin’s engagement. On our way back to Colombo, my family’s car got hit by two buses. That’s right. Not one. TWO.

Isn’t that wild?

Alhamdulillah, everyone walked away from that accident.

I got a good knock on the head, though, which resulted in a dramatic swelling of my face as the blood from my head injury fell down into my eye sockets.

The effect my face had on people was hilarious. I scared children and made women cry.

I look back on that incident and I have to say, not only am I grateful, I am terrifically happy.

As odd as it sounds, we couldn’t have chosen better timing and a better location to have a disaster. Our entire family was on that same road home.  From wherever they were, they all turned around and came back to aid my mom and dad.  I can say with utmost certainty; there are far worse places to have a mild concussion.

I can’t remember much of the 12 hours or so after the accident and even in the weeks after, as my brain recuperated, my short term memory was a bit wonky. My big brother (who specializes in emergency medicine) said there’s nothing to worry about; I probably felt drowsy.  Thinking back, waking up in the middle of conversations just adds to that hilarity of the situation.

But my parents were not that amused. They were fully conscious, terrified and anxious.

The capital-F Fear has lasted a bit too long. It’s been almost a year now. My father is still frightened to drive, thinking he fell asleep at the wheel that day. He tells me, “I’m too old to drive. I am too tired. I am too distracted. ” The Fear cripples him.

Why was I capital-H Happy? Why was he Afraid? Was it because I was unconscious? Was it because I was naive? Was it because I simply didn’t care?

Recently I have been quite fearful myself. A recent social engagement left me crabby and shaking.

I have been watching my ‘I am’ statements recently and found there is a shocking prevalence of a kind of self-smack talk. “I don’t like new people. I am not good with new people. I am not good with unfamiliar situations. I am a nervous person. I am a shy person.”

I thought of something else I’d learned recently.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become. My father always said that. And I think I am fine.

I’ve heard this many times, but honestly it’s only made sense now.

These fearful thoughts have probably become my character. A photographer once told me she was surprised that I am a comedian because I was so timid.

“Like a mouse?” I thought at the time. I wasn’t angry; I was just sad that my Fear was so evident. Still I managed to have a kick-butt photo shoot.

On the morning of that social gathering, I sat very still and quiet and listened to my thoughts.

I was frightened of other people. I thought they would hurt me. I thought they would prey on my vulnerability. I thought they would bully me.

Good Lord, where did these horrid thoughts come from?

I’m not going to blame anyone else. I’m not going to blame some monolithic culture for branding a tiny South East Asian woman with stereotypical qualities.

Wherever they came from, they must be stopped. Because I don’t want to ‘become’ frightened. I don’t want my destiny to be shrinking away in the corners of rooms, waiting for someone to notice me and being scared when they do.  Allah Subhaana Wa Ta’aala is my Protector and His world is too big and too beautiful Mashallah.

I’ve learned that my friend Fear doesn’t leave when asked. He doesn’t leave when yelled at. And he doesn’t budge, even if you tell him to go back where he came from.

I have started changing my thoughts consciously. I’ve started to turn “I am shy” to “I am hopeful”, “I am thoughtful”, “I am observant”, “I am peaceful”. Nothing wrong with not talking. When you listen you learn so much about so many new things. When you consciously listen, it takes a bit of hard work. You have to shelve your ego and give the other person the space to express themselves. I’m still trying but Alhamdulillah it’s a richly rewarding experience.

The day of the accident, I was happy because I wasn’t alone. That day and all the days after that, every time I woke up someone I loved was there. It was like the world’s best Facebook picture slideshow.

And the only person who was hurt was me and I knew it wasn’t that bad. You know when something inside you is changed forever and Alhamdulillah that didn’t happen that day.

That particular week, I was just grateful for every single silly little thing, from my parents to TV, from boiled eggs to pain medication, from hugs to the wind, to beautiful confusing Sri Lanka to lovely and infuriating Dubai.

Hopefully insha Allah in changing my thoughts, I will change my character. Hopefully insha Allah I will nurture peace, whether my friend Fear is with me or not.

That, more than anything, is my intention for 2013 insha Allah.

Have a blessed year. Have a blessed life insha Allah!

Wassalam and Fee Amanillah.

The Happy (and fully healed) Muslimah.

Art is worship Part III: Relaxation

via http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem.

Assalam alaikum wr wb, sister or brother.

I am going to do something I don’t do enough. I am going to be honest.

Brother and sister, I am truly too exhausted to make art.

It’s been a draining couple of years. My life has felt like a train-wreck and I have been trying desperately with my petty mortal hands to control it.

I have expected situations to be different but they haven’t been. I have expected people to behave a certain way but they haven’t. Things have changed when I had hoped they would stay the same. Things have stayed the same when I have prayed they would change. But the details are unimportant.

My feelings are not. I have disappointed, sometimes angry, exhausted all the time.

I’m sleeping like crazy. I can’t eat. I can’t think. I have absolutely no creative energy to tackle anything long-form like a screenplay or a novel. The thought of a deadline makes me want to vomit.

Alhamdulillah I have written some poetry, though.

I think it’s about time that I took an extended period of rest. Regroup my spirits, learn to forgive myself and others, find my footing a little maybe. Or learn to just let it slide and accept Allah (SWT)’s plan for me.

As soon as I say that though, some strange demon in the depths of my belly stands jumping up and down, making scratch marks in my inside, shouting with the voices of my parents, a thousand teachers from over the years.

“You have no right to relax! People like you, less-than-geniuses, have to work your butts off to get anywhere – I mean ANYWHERE! – in life! Full tension every day all the time! That’s the price you pay for being born the way you are.

What have you achieved in your adult life? Nothing.

Has your writing changed anyone’s life? No. Not even your own.”

(This is not true. I’ve discovered a lot of things about myself and others through my work. Though it has been private, it has definitely been transformative.)

“Have you made your mark on the world? Like your heroes, Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye and Ani DiFranco? Have you made any of those mind-blowing films you keep dreaming of? Have you rivaled Mr. Scorsese or Mr. Kauffman? “

(Is it really necessary for me to change the world? I thought my work was for Allah (SWT). Then it simply is what it is, the story truer than the truth. It’s my duty to tell it, whether anyone cares to listen or not. Whether it changes anything or not.)

“What don’t you have enough of? Time.

What are you getting? Older. You’re 25 years old, 26 next month. Every day brings you closer to middle age and motherhood. Increased responsibilities, lower energy levels and your already poor time management skills will simply fall apart under the pressure.”

I ask real people for advice and it is always conflicting.

“You’re trying too hard.”

“You’re not working hard or smart enough.”

“You’re too young.”

“You’re too old.”

“You don’t give yourself enough credit.”

“You’re resting too much on your laurels.”

I find myself facing a mountain. Make this film. Write this screenplay. Find collaborators who are as excited about your work as you are. And for a while, I feel energetic. But then something happens, not really a discrete incident but just something else. Something outside of me. Maybe my father calls and or my mother or some boring administrative task takes up my entire day and my body just sinks beneath despair.

I feel like the world doesn’t want me to write or create. Perhaps Allah (SWT) is trying to tell me that my destiny is to be mediocre and house-bound like a not particularly cute cat.

I find myself fighting with the people I love. Not being able to tell them how I feel. How lost, alone and confused.

It’s time I took a little time off from the rat-race insha Allah. Whatever I’ve been doing hasn’t been working. This means finding a new path. Maybe recalibrating my beliefs. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing. On the contrary, I think the fact that I’ve written so little has contributed to my exhaustion.

I’ll worship a lot more. I need it more than I think.

I’ll exercise too. Take long walks in nature. Run around after children (will somebody please lend me their children kthx), kung fu, kickboxing, aerobics maybe.

I’ll spend a lot of time outside of my comfort zone, especially when it comes to people and my interactions with them. Maybe I’ll try explaining spoken-word to my husband LOL. Yesterday, I showed him “When Love Arrives” and his mind just went blank.

And yes I think I will spend a lot of time writing. I will try insha Allah to rediscover the play in art, try to refill the well a little bit. Maybe I will work on a long-term project but as something fun, not as something that’s ever going to see the light of day.

I’m not going to be telling you how it’s going because the aim is not for it to be going anywhere.

I’m just going to be myself for a while. I’m going to find out what that means insha Allah.

Wassalam and Fee Amanillah.


We are family. Or not: Some words of advice from Murshidah Said

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb!

If I asked my family to speak honestly to me, they would probably get confused.

Depending on their mood, or how well their day went, or how well I’ve been following their commands that day/week/month/year, they will either a) repeat the same lie they have always repeated or b) launch into a violent attack of everything I hold dear.

It’s quite obvious we can’t communicate with each other. We just don’t know how. They offend and I defend. This cycle has been repeating itself all my life.

This means that we can’t help each other. This means that things have gone unsaid for years, perhaps decades. This means that Allah (SWT) has blessed us with a family but the Devil has made sure we are all alone in the world.

My friends have confided in me about the communication patterns in their houses. They are frighteningly similar.

This is unacceptable and this is not something I would like to replicate with our children.

I asked my friend Murshidah Said, an empowerment expert and a dear friend, to help us put down different paths for our families. (Seriously, Mashallah, she is made of awesomeness. I would highly recommend following her on Twitter, adding her on Facebook or subscribing to her blog for more nuggets of wisdom.)

Here are my questions and here’s what she had to say. If you have any further questions for Murshidah, please don’t hesitate to comment below.

Note: At its core, what Murshidah is advocating is a change of belief as to how your relationships are and how it can change. The actions she advocates will only have true effect once that change in belief occurs. This is something Murshidah knows I struggle with myself J.

There are certain hot-button issues at every stage of life that usually damage the parent-child relationships, sometimes irreparably. What are some constructive ways to approach these issues?

When we hit the hot buttons, we are hitting the EGO- CENTERED part of ourselves. This is the part where we operate only with our mind and body, and not use our heart and spirit to connect with others.  When we come from a space of LOVE and connection with our Creator, the communication we have will not come out with hurt and anger. So some quick steps to approach these issues whether you are the parent or the child:

1.       Before you face the issue, be aware of your thoughts and feelings.

If you start the conversation with fear, anger or guilt, the person you will be communicating with will receive that energy and will match it. This normally comes out with anger, blame and hurt too. If you are aware of your feelings already, you can also be open to share it at the beginning for example, “I would like to talk to you about this but I am afraid that you will get upset. I hope you will listen without interrupting until I finish…” Be open about how you feel and what you want from the other person before you address the issue.

2. Know what you want to achieve from the conversation.

No one wants to start a fight purposely so when discussing certain topics, address what you hope you want the other person to understand and see. Discuss what you want resolved and what would be the best positive outcome for the discussion.

3.       Pick the right time to talk.

Ask permission first to arrange the best time to discuss. Not while someone is in the middle of an errand or in the middle of doing something important or necessary. I would advise to discuss when both parent and child can sit quietly – not during dinner, or work, or if someone is watching TV. Know that it’s important to give full attention to the conversation so as not to have an interruption from other people or other distractions.

4.       Always start from a space of LOVE.

Tell the other person why it’s so important to talk about this issue and why you need to tell him/her because of the LOVE you know this person has for you. Start with LOVE and continue the conversation by saying what you expect from the discussion so that you will get closer with each other and not affect your relationship as parent-child.

5.       At the same time, recognize that your current relationship may not be as close as you think.

Keep on improving your relationship. This takes daily effort. Find something that you can chat and talk about everyday that you know you will not argue about and that will bring you closer. Make time to do something together that both of you will enjoy to start improving communication.

6.       Learn to see from the viewpoint of the other person.

If you are the child, see the situation from your parents’ point of view and step into their shoes. They may have certain social or mental conditioning that you may want to relate to. At the same time, explain your point of view. And parents…LIKEWISE!

7.    Whether you are parent or child, when discussing these issues, be sure to respect the other person and not raise your voice or talk down to the other person.

 I’m sure I’m not the first person to ask you this, “Why are my parents so stubborn?” And vice versa, “Why are my children so stubborn?”

People are “stubborn” when their EGO is the focus of their lives. There is a difference between being stubborn and being steadfast.  When a person stands by his /her beliefs, the person is unwavering in his opinion but may be empathetic to the other person.  Being stubborn means to refuse seeing other people’s point of view and sees only their own way as right.  There may be reasons as to why people are stubborn and these are some ways to deal with this:

  1. The person may not have the knowledge or understanding or information about a situation. The act of stubbornness comes from an energy space of fear and defensiveness. The person may rebut any form of opinions as a way to cover his/her ignorance.
  2. The person may have a strong personality type that has a tendency to not be able to accept criticisms and he/she may be stubborn when it comes to opinions that conflict with theirs.
  3. The person reacting out of stubbornness may fear change, the unknown and a loss of something or someone.

How can we as children improve communication? How can parents improve communication?

In addition to all the steps that I listed above there is one more activity I would highly recommend and it’s called, “What I feel like sharing”.  It may be uncomfortable at the beginning but I highly recommend it.  Every morning before the start of the day, have a “WHAT I FEEL LIKE SHARING SESSION” where members of the family can take turns to share their feelings and what they plan to do for the day. There are however rules to this activity. When a person is talking, no one is allowed to look at other things like TV, phone, computers, etc. Full attention MUST be given to the person and no one can interrupt until the person finish talking. (This can end with “That is what I feel like sharing.”) The person talking must also speak with LOVE & RESPECT about his/her feelings without blame and criticism. Rather, to share how she/he feels (may be positive or negative feelings). After the session, the family can discuss how they can improve a situation or do something that would add value to each other. Trust me, this was one of the toughest activity for me as I am (or was) someone who cannot talk about my feelings. However, when done regularly, you will be amazed at how you bond with the people around you especially your friends and family who engage with this open communication of LOVE and SHARING. (I have also encouraged some organisations to start their Monday morning meetings with a “WHAT I FEEL LIKE SHARING” session. Bosses, or parents, have to initiate this activity though. Productivity, motivation and profits improve when there is LOVE and self worth. Now if organisations can do this, trust me, families can start too!)

Reflect, learn and follow the footsteps of our Prophet (saw) on how he communicated with his children, elders and how he conducted himself with people.  He always came from the space of LOVE & RESPECT when conducting himself for Allah’s sake.

How can we break the cycles of blame, despair, etc?

When we are in the space of anger, fear, negativity, this is what happens. The Law of Attraction states that what we focus on, we will attract. That is why we are encouraged to make Dua only for good things in our lives.

One of the reasons for living a life of blame and despair is when a person is not in a state of shukr or gratitude.  For all the things in your life and all the people you have in your life, be sure to give thanks to Allah for they are there for you for a reason. Wake up every morning and do a mental or preferably a written list of all the things that you are grateful for in your life. Even when you face challenging situations, be sure to focus on the good and what you can learn from that and take action to improve your situation instead of blaming. When we blame, we become helpless. Instead focus on what can you do to change a negative situation.

Another way to break that cycle is by writing down all your achievements in your life. Divide your age by 3 and in each part of your life, list down all the things that you accomplished or did that made you feel so happy, proud and grateful. You will learn to look back to see that you have managed to overcome what you deemed difficult situations at the time.

I am a strong believer that your past does not determine your future, but what you do in the present does. So if you are currently unhappy with your life or surroundings now, make a conscious effort to change it. Anger begets more anger and the energy of LOVE is more powerful than hate or anger.  Perhaps you cannot change your circumstances, but you can change the future of how you will communicate with others, knowing the hurt it can cause others when you are in a space of anger. You also know now how to communicate better with your children as you have experienced the hurt of a dogmatic upbringing.

What are some of the after-effects of these kinds of persistent arguments?

God forbid, I have come across teens who have run away because of the breakdown in communication with their parents; children who do not want to be around their parents much when they reach adulthood because of all the pent-up frustrations in the growing up years.  Research has also shown that a person who cannot fully forgive a parent (or both) can lead to career and relationship problems in their adult life.

These negative emotional energies will also be transferred down to their children in the future and affect how they raise their families.  Families make up the society and when there is turmoil in the family or negative energies coming out from the families, the society formed from these families will be negative and not empowering to the people. Where there is no LOVE, there will be chaos and it will be manifested in the environment, the surrounding and the peace of the community.

What kind of communication should we as a community aim for between parents and children? What would be the benefits of this?

Let’s all start from the space of LOVE & RESPECT. The emotions and space we were all born with is full of LOVE. Just hold a baby and you can feel the LOVE coming out from the child. This is the original US before the hurt and accumulated anger that caused the hardened adult heart. Get connected with our Creator and know the purpose of our lives here on Earth. When we know our purpose, how we relate with other people in our lives will come naturally. The communication we MUST have with everyone in our community and everyone else in the world is one of LOVE & RESPECT. LOVE & RESPECT because we are all Allah’s creations and we are all spirits having a human experience. We will ultimately go back to Allah so how we live and add value in this world will determine our state of our soul when we leave this world. It must all start with our families before we can spread LOVE & PEACE to the world.  We will never have peace as long as within our own souls there is no peace.

Some of my final words:

Instil LOVE in your heart. Forgive everyone before you sleep. People who hurt others are hurt and scared themselves. Give them LOVE and pray for peace in their souls. Be grateful every day, for there is always something we can be grateful for. Know your purpose in this world. When you live it, there will be LOVE.

Please note that this requires daily conscious effort.

Some useful quotes we can reflect on:

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 14:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah’s Apostle
صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم(Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) saying, “Who ever is pleased that he be granted more wealth and that his lease of life be pro longed, then he should keep good relations with his Kith and kin.”

Narrated Jubair bin Mut’im:
That he heard the Prophet
صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم(Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) saying, “The person who severs the bond of kinship will not enter Paradise.”

“Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them any word of contempt, nor repulse them, but address them in terms of honour, and out of kindness lower to them your wings of submission, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them as they cared for me in my childhood”‘ (17:23-24).

I hope my little interview with Murshidah has helped and inspired you to overcome the molehills that have become mountains in your family life. You’ll always know how I’m doing – tell  me how you’re doing and let’s figure this one out together.

Because as I said before: This is unacceptable.

Wassalam and Fee Amanillah,

The (usually) Happy (but right now, quite angry) Muslimah.

The value of illness

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb, peeps!

So my mother recently began experiencing nerve problems in her hand. They started with silly things – dropping plates, slipping and cutting herself when cooking.But now it is almost completely non-functional. It just hangs there, waiting for relief.

And it hurts her too.

Now her daily activities are no longer as simple as they used to be – very often, she needs assistance dressing, cooking, cleaning. We have been helping her as much as we can, but obviously we have also been looking desperately for a cure.

We have been now around the block (literally – there are four clinics in a few blocks’ radius here in Dubai) looking for a diagnosis. They got nothin’.

We went to Sri Lanka. After a flurry of painful, embarrassing and sometimes excruciating tests – for the wallet and the heart- nothing there either. After this trying ordeal, I flew back in to Dubai last weekend to get back to work. But my father says that my mother needs me now as he is preparing to come back to our businesses.

So out I go to Sri Lanka again.

Illness is a funny thing. It’s like an unwanted visitor, taking residence not in your house, your room, your closet or your bathroom, but somewhere else, somewhere more sacred – your body.

But illness is also an incredible teacher. Illness has taught me that I cannot be truly compassionate unless I break down the barrier between my mother and I. ‘Tough love’ never worked during my illness and it won’t work during hers. ‘Tough love’ usually happens when you can’t accept that the other person is in pain and is infringing on your life; I think it’s an ultimately selfish form of compassion.

Yes, we have had our moments – in fact, we continue to have those moments even as I help her on with her shalwar kameez. But now I understand. I understand the worry and the pain and the suffering, the “What will happen if I die? Who will take care of you now?” Because when I left her to come back to Dubai (a much tinier change than DEATH), I was thinking, “What will Mama do without me now?” It’s the same thing, just different hearts.

Illness takes no prisoners. It sits and it stays till you take action. But you can never be sure if it’ll work or not. As in all things in life, you are never sure. The end result is with Allah (SWT). Tawakkul and Yaqeen are such precious resources at a time like this. It’s the difference between spiritual death and the energy to take the next step.

People always say that you don’t know what you can do until you do it. And it’s usually those big things they are talking about – writing a novel, building a house, lifting a truck with your bare hands.

But illness makes you super-human. It’s a paradox, but those finest of human qualities – patience, strength, faith – finds their deepest and truest expression when the firm vessel they are housed in slowly begins to fade.

I can’t think how many times I have looked my mother in the eyes and told her, “Just a little while longer. It’s all going to be over soon.”

And she has said to me, “Okay.” Probably the first time in years we have agreed on anything.

You think you’ve scratched the bottom of the barrel, but suddenly there’s just a little more left. You can go on just one more day. And maybe today, you’ll figure this out.

I think the best thing that has come out of this illness is that my mother and I are renegotiating the terms of our relationship – at least Insha Allah I hope so. We’ve kind of turned the mother-child relationship on its head a little, and insha Allah, that’s exactly what we need to move over the impasse in communications we’ve hit recently.

It’s a delicate process. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Another rather obvious lesson illness has taught me – jolly well exercise and eat right or bad things will happen. I’m serious.

May Allah (SWT) keep all of us healthy Ameen!

Wassalam and Fee Amanillah,

The Happy Muslimah

Unreasonable expectations

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum wr wb,

Today I read a blog post that really made me livid.

I suspected then that the Devil was making vain sport with me. That he was making me relive past ills so that I could turn on my family, myself and the Ummah (Muslim community)

I’m not interested in attacking anyone anymore. As a community, we Muslims are always on the defensive, from each other and the world at large. We can never advance as a community because we’re always retreating.

I am not married. I am told this is because I have unreasonable expectations of men.

As if good marriages were ever based on sound logic.

As if anything good ever came from being reasonable.

Michael Phelps put his body through unreasonably intense work-outs. And look, he’s a world champion.

My parents married each other, in spite of the fact that most of their relatives were against their marriage. They were being unreasonable. They left everything they knew and came to Dubai to make a better life for my brothers and me, having very little idea of what was waiting for them in this desert. That sounds pretty unreasonable to me too.

But you see, they married each other because they loved each other and they thought they could rely on each other. That’s a perfectly reasonable way to go about marriage. When they left Sri Lanka, they left behind the shackles of racism and civil war, a war that’s lasted over 30 years. Again, perfectly logical.

What sorry states we would be in if Allah (SWT) was “reasonable” with us and gave us our due punishment and reward?
Expectations. This is another curious word.

The Muslim world expects us to be great mothers and sisters and daughters – we should cook like MasterChefs, clean like Martha Stewart and be bashful and submissive around gentlemen as well – some lady that’s bashful and submissive around gentlemen.

We are expected to be fair and slim and well-dressed. If we’re not naturally so, we must torture our bodies into being so. Our emotional and physical health matters little.

Yes, Islam liberates women, but Muslim women don’t seem to be liberated.

We are also expected to overachieve at school and then, if we manage to not be married off by that time, we must over-achieve at work.

The secular world of work requires us to be bold, to take the initiative, to lunge and parry with people of the opposite sex. To be individual and be part of a team at the same time. To dress conservatively but not so much that we alienate our peers (in other words, no hijab).

We are surrounded by unreasonable expectations. And yet all the Muslim women I know have risen to the challenge. Not only have they faced their challenges, they stick their tongue out at it and spank its backside. They accept the contradictions of their worlds and even manipulate it to their advantage with glee.

Of course, I expect things of men. Shouldn’t I? Should I have low expectations of them? Am I supposed to consider it impossible to find a man equal to me in all respects? Wouldn’t that be insulting?

But I have no desire now to attack. I have instead a very strong desire to pray for forgiveness.

Forgive us Allah, the Most Merciful. Forgive the family friends that try to humiliate my father because, at the ripe old age of 24, my “time is running out”, and it is, by committee, his “fault”.

Forgive the friends who’ve told me the same crap in different eras.

Please, Allah (SWT), forgive the aunt and uncle who love me and are besotted with me, who hurt me with their constant questions and embarrass me in front of my cousins.

Forgive the cousins that lower their expectations and expect me to lower mine.

Forgive my parents their litany of sins, too many to enumerate.

Forgive me, Allah (SWT).

Forgive me my impatience, my desire to fight fire with fire and rage with rage. My desire to run away from it all or hold my ground and fight when I know that pain only begets pain.

Forgive me my blindness. I have looked my friends and my brothers in the face and told them that I don’t need them. And they have looked me in the face and told me that I’m not enough. And we have broken each others’ hearts time and time again. We have torn each other down when we should have built each other up.

Forgive us. We do not believe that You will take care of us, so we look for security in the weak hands and hearts of your creations instead. We are all acting in blind wretched fear.

Forgive us and help us to take responsibility for the actions of our tongues and our hands, before You take them from us.

I want to start again.

I’m putting down my weapons in the gender wars. It’s time we all put down our weapons and faced our problems like the Prophet (peace be upon him) told us to.

I want to find someone whom I can help and help them. Whether they are man, woman, or child.

And my deepest desire is to say yes, but when I say no, I mean no.

Fee Amanillah,